Flat-four boxer strikes all the right notes

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: Sau­rabh Botre

HIT­TING THE RIGHT NOTES IN this day and age is a ma­jor chal­lenge. Even with your A-B-Cs in place, each ap­proach, when de­liv­ered and of­fered, will be per­ceived dif­fer­ently and not al­ways ap­proached like the cre­ator may have imag­ined. How­ever, that’s where the fac­tor of chance steps in. Is it good by chance? No, it’s good be­cause it was made well. Is it re­ceived well by chance? Per­haps. And that’s where we come in. It’s been 40 years since Porsche last of­fered a flat-four en­gine, and with a 2.0-litre dis­place­ment, no less. How­ever, the ‘718’ name, also new, marks the res­ur­rec­tion of the nomen­cla­ture first seen about 60 years ago on a hard­core de­vel­op­ment of the 550A. It was a mid-en­gined racer with a 1.5-litre flat-four mak­ing 142 PS. The car made its début in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1957, but didn’t fin­ish as it was in­volved in an in­ci­dent. The fol­low­ing year, though, it fin­ished first in its class and third over­all. In the early 1960s, the 718 name was even in For­mula 1! Turn the clock back to the present and we find the mo­tor in the new Boxster is a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor with a more mod­ern con­struc­tion. And it’s turbo’d.

Look at the new Boxster, though, and it’s vastly sim­i­lar to the 981. Porsche say it’s the 982 and we be­lieve them, es­pe­cially from the rear, where the new black stripe ar­rives be­tween boot-lid and bumper. The tail-lamp clus­ter pair is also all-new and rather strik­ing. The shape, over­all, with the tight lines and curvy wheel-arches that hug those pre­ci­sion-cut 19-inch wheels with low 40-pro­file rub­ber all evoke a sen­sa­tion of speed, not to men­tion nat­u­ral beauty. Es­pe­cially when in a racy shade of red!

The cabin has enough space for two, and only two. There are door-pock­ets, a glove-box, and some stor­age un­der the cen­tre arm-rest, but that’s about it. If you want to stash any­thing, it has to go in one of the two boots — you have 150 litres in the front, with 125 litres at the rear. Be­ing a soft-top and be­ing a Porsche, the roof folds and stays over the en­gine in the mid­dle, be­hind the seats. So it doesn’t re­ally eat into boot vol­ume.

Dol­ing out the in­for­ma­tion is a typ­i­cally Porsche lay­out — large rev-counter in the mid­dle, flanked by the speedo and tell-tale lights. Even be­ing a tur­bocharged mo­tor, this one revs to 7,500 rpm. It’s quite a piece of work, ac­tu­ally. Putting aside the purist line of thought and get­ting to grips with the fact that the 718 does em­brace his­tory and goes back to four cylin­ders — cre­at­ing a seem­ingly needed space be­tween it­self and the 911 — and present-day tech­nol­ogy trends to clean up its act, pro­vid­ing high power with lower fuel con­sump­tion.

The all-new 2.0-litre flat-four boxer en­gine uses a 91-mm bore in con­junc­tion with a 7 6.4-mm stroke length for a dis­place­ment of 1,988 cc. The fir­ing or­der,

1-3-2-4, is dif­fer­ent ow­ing to the adop­tion of a sin­gle tur­bocharger, lo­cated where two more cylin­ders would have been, to keep sev­eral fac­tors in check: from plumb­ing for the com­pres­sor and in­take to cost. Turn the key and the boxer growls to life be­fore, dare I say, set­tling into a prop­erly grumpy, lazy idle. That’s akin to some­thing from the other end of Stuttgart with twice the num­ber of cylin­ders, ac­tu­ally.

Push the right pedal and get a move on and there’s an an­gry, an­gry sound. With the sin­gle turbo de­liv­er­ing 20 psi of boost, it al­lows for a much higher spe­cific out­put than even the old Boxster GTS! The numbers, 300 PS and 380 Nm, are sim­i­lar to what its Bavar­ian cousin de­liv­ers from an in-line four, but here it’s dif­fer­ent. It’s wilder. These 300 horses haven’t been to groom­ing school and seem more un­tamed lead­ing to quite the tail-happy na­ture for this new 718 soft-top.

Need numbers? With two on board, the Boxster shat­tered 100 km/h in 5.7 sec­onds and smashed the quar­ter-mile in 14.1 sec­onds at a shade over 173 km/h. The claimed top speed is 275, but, be­ing where we were, we soon ran out of room. The brak­ing was quite good for a car for its size and weight of just un­der 1.4 tonnes, even with­out the ce­ramic brakes, with a 2.3-sec­ond pe­riod be­tween 80 km/h and naught, span­ning less than 25 me­tres, too. Speak­ing of which, the PCCB (Porsche Ce­ramic Com­pos­ite Brakes) Rs-12-lakh op­tion de­liv­ers

There’s an aura of per­for­mance, of qual­ity, and, most im­por­tantly, of com­mit­ment

far quicker and more ef­fort­less stop­ping power with no fade what­so­ever. Speak­ing of which, the base price is Rs 87.33 lakh, exshow­room and with­out op­tions in Mum­bai. There are a slew of choices too. Play around long enough on the car con­fig­u­ra­tor and you can eas­ily dou­ble up the cost!

On the ef­fi­ciency front, too, the 718 Boxster pleas­antly sur­prised with its fru­gal­ity, hardly wolf­ing down a litre ev­ery 7.5 kilo­me­tres in the city, while ca­su­ally sip­ping one ev­ery 12.5 km on the high­way. The stan­dard tank is 54 litres, yield­ing a range of 475 kilo­me­tres con­sid­er­ing an over­all 8.75 km/l. Put in an­other 20 grand and you can have the 64-litre tank that in­creases said range to 560.

What that feels like on the road is a dif­fer­ent story. Like the 911, the 718 al­lows many a mo­ment of that on-the-edge feel­ing with the way it ac­cel­er­ates with a hint of wiggle. It makes you do a lit­tle work to get the goods and, when it de­liv­ers, it feels in­fin­itely re­ward­ing and widens the smile you’ve had all the while, tak­ing it in, then get­ting in, and hear­ing that boxer fire up for the first time. The way it builds your ex­pe­ri­ence is the key. The fluid feel of the touch­screen on the cen­tre con­sole as you pore through set­tings. The weight of the steer­ing as you turn in, slow and fast, with its un­der­ly­ing pulse al­go­rithms work­ing hard. The way the sus­pen­sion feels firmly sprung and ag­ile be­yond be­lief, yet soft enough not to be a bother even on the worst of road sur­faces. It all adds up.

As with the 911, there’s an aura of per­for­mance, of qual­ity, and, most im­por­tantly, of com­mit­ment. Ev­ery de­tail and ap­point­ment of choice re­flects the en­thu­si­ast and in­ner child not just in the driver, but also the mak­ers. You just know that who­ever made those parts, sewed the ma­te­rial on those sport seats, and crafted all those alu­minium bits of pad­dle, shifter and trim, knew ex­actly what feel­ing they de­sired from who­ever first laid their hands on them and then ran their fin­gers slowly across. And, that, ladies and gen­tle­men, doesn’t come by very of­ten. Any way you look at it, Porsche sports cars are ex­clu­sive. You don’t see one very of­ten. And if it’s out-of-the-box quick-mix in­stant fun that you crave, this Boxster and its flat-four mo­tor strike all the right notes.

Qual­ity in­te­rior and sporty el­e­ments fur­ther mas­sage the need for speed Ra­di­a­tor at the other end is the clos­est you get to the en­gine with­out tak­ing apart the car

Sin­gu­lar ex­haust pipe aptly am­pli­fies the flat-four mo­tor’s glo­ri­ously ag­gres­sive sound­track Am­ple 150-litre boot in the front enough for a few bags; 125 more litres in the rear, too

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